Wednesday 22 November 2017

Spiritual tourism scheme shows nothing is sacred

The exploitation of one of the most personal elements of people's lives is truly nauseating, writes Emer O'Kelly

IWAS 12 years old when I made my only visit to Lourdes, taken there on "pilgrimage" by a religion-obsessed aunt, all of whose holidays were "pilgrimages" of one kind or another.

Lourdes horrified me, even at that age: the vast concrete park around the ugly statues where the Virgin is believed by Catholics to have appeared to St Bernadette, filled each evening with the sick and maimed, their faces full of desperate hope for a "miraculous" cure, and brainwashed into believing that even if their probably inevitable death happened within days, the money spent in visiting that ugly, man-made shrine would have been well spent through the receipt of special spiritual grace.

And outside the park, selling of a different kind was happening; the entire town was a retail industry of revolting proportions, summed up by empty bottles in the shape of the Virgin being sold at exorbitant prices to be filled with water from the "miraculous spring".

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